The nominee for the US Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx
Charlotte's light rail train (photographer unknown). Charlotte has another advantage over Baltimore with the light rail in that they are using the latest generation vehicles which are much more attractive and sleek compared to the light rail vehicles deployed when Baltimore opened their system.
has been selected because of his experience with transit. See "Obama to Nominate Charlotte Mayor to Transportation Post" from the New York Times.
But what's interesting about that is for the most part, all of the transit stuff that's moving forward in Charlotte was done under the previous Mayor, Pat McCrory (who after one failed attempt, is now the Governor of North Carolina).
Although it is true that the grant application to the USDOT for the streetcar was submitted in 2010, although clearly the process had been underway long before the November 2009 election.
-- Charlotte Streetcar website
Pat McCrory was the mayor who got a local funding initiative passed and in the face of a voter referendum to overturn the transit sales tax--the vote occurred right around when the Charlotte Lynx system was about to open--he and others marshaled a campaign to defeat the anti-transit referendum.
... although McCrory hasn't been perfect. See "Why Is Charlotte’s Former Mayor Challenging Charlotte’s Transit Plans?" from Streetsblog.
It's not unlike how I used to say that most everything that previous DC Mayor Adrian Fenty got credit for doing had been planned under the previous Mayor, Anthony Williams, although it was true that the bike sharing system that DC is now heralded for was created under his tenure (although DC gets a bit more credit than it deserves, except for pulling together the funding, because the reason DC was able to move so fast on the project was because it signed onto a contract already negotiated by Arlington County, Virginia).
The Streetsblog entry on the nomination is interesting and probably sums up both President Obama and Anthony Foxx pretty well with this:
Expanding highways, transit, and bicycling options simultaneously is a good approximation of what we’ve seen so far from the Obama administration: giving people more transportation options without making much of an effort to rein in sprawl infrastructure.
President Obama talks a good game, like with high speed rail. But he messed up big time putting off renewal of the Transportation Bill, not expecting the Republicans would get control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 election. The current transpo bill preferences highway spending, just as much of the spending in the "stimulus bill" went to roads, not transit, despite the talk...
* Interestingly, somehow I missed that former Arlington County Manager Ron Carlee--he left ArCo after almost 30 years in 2009, going to the ICMA as an official-manager in residence--was recently appointed to be City Manager of Charlotte. See "Carlee suggests postponing streetcar for more study" from the Charlotte Observer.